A History of Science, Technology, and Philosophy in the 16th & 17th Centuries

A History of Science, Technology, and Philosophy in the 16th & 17th Centuries

A History of Science, Technology, and Philosophy in the 16th & 17th Centuries

A History of Science, Technology, and Philosophy in the 16th & 17th Centuries

Excerpt

In the following pages the attempt is made to give a reasonably full account of the achievements of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in the whole field of "natural" knowledge. All the sciences, including several which have not hitherto been included in histories of science, receive due attention, and details are given of all the important work done in each of them during the first two centuries of the modern period. A considerable amount of space is also allotted to the principal branches of technology. The volume, moreover, includes a fairly full account of the philosophy of the period as an aid to the understanding of the general intellectual orientation of its scientists. It is hoped that the exposition is sufficiently clear, and the illustrations sufficiently illuminating to enable the general reader to profit greatly from this history. Its primary aim, however, is to meet the needs of the serious student. For this reason the work is fully documented. The plan of incorporating a select bibliography (giving precise references) in the text will probably be found much more helpful than is the usual formal bibliography, which makes it about as easy to find the authority for a particular view as it is to find a needle in a haystack. A more formal bibliography for the whole modern period will be included in the concluding volume.

The present book is complete in itself. It is, however, intended to be only an instalment of a complete history of science. The author proposes to deal with the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries next, and then with ancient and mediaeval times. But each volume will be as nearly as possible self-contained. Human history cannot, of course, be strictly correlated with exact centuries. In science, as in other fields of human activity, the events of one century have their antecedents in earlier centuries and their consequences in later ones. For the sake of greater intelligibility, and self-completeness of each volume, the author accordingly did not, and will not, hesitate to make occasional incursions into other centuries than those principally concerned.

An encyclopaedic enterprise like the present may appear to be an anachronism in an age of extreme specialization. It is widely recognized, however, that the tendency toward a narrow specialism has already gone too far. The contemporary close relationship of science and philosophy, and the growing interest in the history and development of science, may be regarded as evidence of a growing recognition of the need of a wider outlook. This work was undertaken, in the first instance, in order to meet the requirements of . . .

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